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Kevin Love, perhaps the NBA’s best stretch power forward, is what the Wolves have to offer. At issue is what they could get in return from trading partners.

File photo by Ann Heisenfelt • Associated Press,

Summer of waiting, maybe trading, for Wolves and Love

  • Article by: Jerry Zgoda
  • Star Tribune
  • May 31, 2014 - 6:13 PM

Forty-seven years after 100,000 hippies converged on San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the Summer of Love is back.

This one isn’t a psychedelic stew of politics, sex, music and drugs. This Summer of Love will bring rampant media speculation and countless rumors involving the Timberwolves and their All-Star forward that won’t end until they finally trade Kevin Love, whether it’s by the June 26 NBA draft or not.

Wolves General Manager Milt Newton last week said the team will only trade its discouraged star if such a deal makes the franchise better. That doesn’t happen often by trading your best player, but the Wolves’ best chance is to spark a bidding war before the game’s best power forward chooses to walk away from the Wolves and an extra $26.5 million with nothing in return in July 2015.

Here are some of the many possibilities.

FRONT-RUNNERS

Golden State

Why he’d sign there

The Warriors are built to win, new coach Steve Kerr needs a stretch power forward for his offensive system and Love finally could find out what it’s like to play with Stephen Curry, a fellow All-Star whom the Wolves infamously bypassed in the 2009 draft. And it might not be L.A., but it is California for a West Coast kid.

What they have to offer

• Promising young players Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes — each could be foundations at the wing positions for a Wolves team that’s never had one at either the shooting guard or small forward positions. The Warriors might deem Thompson untouchable, but it’s probably the price of milk if they want to deal.

• If it’s draft picks the Wolves want, the Warriors have little or nothing.

Salary-cap implications

• The Warriors will have to find someone to take David Lee’s $15 million salary for the next two seasons but take back Kevin Martin’s remaining three years and $21 million if they do.

Cleveland

Why he’d sign there

Friend Kyrie Irving plays there, but there’s only one real reason: The prospect — no matter how shadowy it is at this point — of playing with LeBron James there, if not next season, then the season after. It’d be a big gamble, but not as farfetched as one might think, especially if the Cavs could convince Love to opt in for the fourth and final year of his contract to assure them he’d be there at least two seasons.

What they have to offer

• The No. 1 overall pick, plus a collection of lottery picks such as 2013 top pick Anthony Bennett and former No. 4 overall picks Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. The Cavs are desperate to shortcut what has been a painful rebuilding process, and a LeBron-Love-Kyrie core qualifies. The Wolves, in return, could start anew with their choice of Duke’s Jabari Parker or one of two Kansas Jayhawks, Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins.

• First-round picks in 2015 from Memphis and Miami.

Salary-cap implications

The Cavs will be way below the salary cap come July 1 when next season’s salary cap is set and they’d have the flexibility to both absorb Love’s contract and take back a bad contract.

Boston

Why he’d sign there

He’s a traditionalist: He wears No. 42 because old-timer Connie Hawkins once wore it and was weaned on NBA game tapes, particularly the 1980s Boston teams. The Celtic mystique — plus faith in General Manager Danny Ainge, who already has whipped a losing team into a champion once — could win over his heart.

What they have to offer

• Picks Nos. 6 and 17, plus extra first-round picks from Philadelphia and the L.A. Clippers in 2015, from Brooklyn in 2016 and 2018 and the right to swap picks with the Nets in 2016.

• Third-year power forward Jared Sullinger, a poor man’s Kevin Love of sorts, as well as veteran Jeff Green and restricted free-agent guard Avery Bradley.

Salary-cap implications

Come July, the Celtics will be more than $20 million under the salary cap, which could allow them to take back, say, Martin’s contract as well.

THE NEXT RUNG:

Chicago

Why he’d sign there

Love works out summers with pal Derrick Rose, whose team is poised to win if the Bulls’ superstar ever is healthy. And thanks to Michael Jordan, this franchise has some mystique of its own.

What they have to offer

• Picks Nos. 16 and 19, plus Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2015 and the right to swap picks with Cleveland that year.

• Promising young swingman Jimmy Butler, power forward Taj Gibson and the draft rights to European prospect Nikola Mirotic (rights the Wolves owned and dealt on draft night 2011).

Salary-cap implications

A deal might require the Wolves to take back Carlos Boozer’s $15 million salary that expires the summer of 2015.

Houston

Why he’d sign there

There’s mutual love there with Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who acquired Love and briefly coached him with the Wolves. The Rockets probably become real contenders if aggressive GM Daryl Morey can fit the max salaries of Love, James Harden and Dwight Howard together.

What they have to offer

• Young forwards Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones, and possibly the big expiring contracts of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. Parsons’ contract is tricky, though — he can be a restricted free agent this summer or unrestricted next — and the Rockets’ owner is smitten with Jones’ potential.

• Rockets own the Wolves’ 2015 second-round pick, which they could offer back.

Phoenix

Why he’d sign there

Good question. The weather’s nice, he’d be close to L.A. and rookie coach Jeff Hornacek nearly got the surprising Suns to the playoffs last season.

What they have to offer

• One of two star point guards — Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe, a restricted free agent who’s due a huge payday — as well as one or both the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus. They have former Wolves swingman Gerald Green, too.

• The 14th, 18th and 27th overall picks as well as the Lakers’ 2015 first-round pick.

Salary cap implications

• Like the Cavs, they too will be way under the cap come July and can be flexible.

LONG SHOTS

Sacramento

Kings reportedly are willing to trade the draft’s eighth pick and players other than DeMarcus Cousins without getting a guarantee that Love will re-sign with them. Their only advantage to re-signing him is, like the Wolves, they would be able to offer a contract extension worth $26.5 million more than any other team. Wolves should be able to get more in return.

Washington

Playing with the franchise for which his dad once played might appeal to Love, but the Wizards have little to offer if they’re not willing to part with rising star guard Bradley Beal.

Oklahoma City

Will the Thunder shake things up if its title aspirations fall short again? Love alongside Kevin Durant is intriguing, but does a swap that involves defender Serge Ibaka make it any better? Would you — and would the Thunder — trade enigmatic Russell Westbrook straight up for Love?



 

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